Thursday, November 1, 2007

Blue gold

This is a photo of Lake Superior that I took early one Saturday morning in late October. Our lake is amazing. Anyone who lives by its shores knows that its magic is beyond description. The cloths of beauty that it dons are beyond the wildest imaginings, more awesome than the most opulent brocades, silks, damasks, or satins. It can also appear more serene than the most elegant linens, tweeds, or polished cottons....

and that is all in one day.

The reason why I have posted this blue gold shimmering mirror is because of what I heard on CBC radio yesterday morning. Jelly fish blooms and dead zones.

Apparently there are 200 dead zones in waters around the world, from oceans to lakes. The bottom of Lake Erie is a dead zone. It used to be dead as a corpse, then like a zombie come back to life; it was slightly improved, but now again, thanks to our carelessness it is returning to the dead.

My sister and I thought last night about dead zones. Appropriately, it was Halloween. A dead zone is a body of water where the oxygen level is either gone or too low to support any life, except perhaps some bacteria. It's water that has no oxgyen.

So, my sister said, I guess it can't be H2O anymore.

What would it be, then? I asked. Just "H"?

...yes, like H for hell, said my neighbour this morning on our walk.

Trying to imagine what water without oxygen would actually be is ....spooky. Scary. Sounds like some creepy science fiction movie. Who ever heard about water without oxygen?

If we drank it would there be any benefit to us? Would it quench our thirst? Perhaps not as no fish can live in it. No life at all. In some places, like the huge dead zone in the Caribbean Sea, jelly fish colonize the borders, amassing gigantic jelly fields in this dead-to-other-sea-life zones. The giant turtles are all gone, so too many of the large fish that used to feed on jellyfish.

I wonder if tourists on cruise ships sail right through this dead zone and notice this lifelessness below them?

The mouth of the Mississippi is another huge dead zone, but I believe the largest one is off of the coast of Africa. While the Dead Sea is a natural ....dead sea, our "new" dead zones are a result guessed it: progress. development. civilization. (somehow those words stare out that they actually mean the opposite. Like water without oxygen. It looks like water, but it's not because it can't be H2O, as it has no oxygen. It's a chimera. An illusion. A simulacrum of what it's supposed to be. A false representation.)

Now, at the root of the massive deadening of water that is occurring is our use of fertilizers. While oceans and lakes can repair and heal some damage, we are piling it on without reprieve or rest. The waters can't keep up to our abuse, to the sheer amount of our abuse, to the cumulative damage we keep ignoring. The Mississippi delta, for example, is full of fertilizer effluent from farms all the way north up to Minnesota. The waters collect fertilizer and animal waste runoff from states along its banks and by the time the waters reach the sea, the river is a churning mess of manmade madness.

Last night, while we were talking and thinking about and trying to imagine dead water, my sister and I were looking through a stack of books that I had recently picked up. Interestingly, one of the books I cracked open had a section on how the fertilizers we use today were developed from the leftovers of World War 1. That after the war there were huge stocks of nitrate (essential for the making of explosives) lying around, but there wasn't a market for explosives. So, let's develop a new market! said industry. So, industry decided to push nitrogen fertilizers onto agriculture.

...You're kidding! said my neighbour. Well, now it makes sense! After the Oklahoma bombing I was always trying to figure out what fertilizers had to do with making bombs. ...

who the person or persons were who came up with this original brainstorm of war chemicals to farming and food.... I can't imagine what sort of headspace they live in. I would imagine that whole areas of their brain that should contain justice, compassion and responsibilities to 7 generations is simply....missing. Dead zones.

Then, the 2nd World War added a boost to this renewed use of war chemicals. This time phosphoric acid esters were re-invented as insecticides. Quote from the book "After the war they had large production capacities and stocks and they decided that what kills people should also kill insects. They made new formulations of the stuff and sold it as insecticide" (Jose A. Lutzenberger cited in Hungry Corporations. Helena Paul & Ricarda Steinbrecher, pg 13).

Now these very same re-fashioned death chemicals are standard agribusiness and farming "aids" that we call fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides. I believe some of that is based on gyphosates which is the same #$%@ chemical they carpet bomb blueberries with in the forests around northwestern Ontario where I go to pick blueberries. (next post: my blueberry time bomb story..also found in your cereal...)

So, when we look into the dead zone, into the dead waters multiplying today at an alarming rate, we look into the mirror of war.

It is a mirror not made of blue gold. It is not even made of gold or even of cash...i.e. hard cash. It's that invisible commerce jetting about the stock market casino of cyberspace, fueled by engines of the military-industrial complex.

1 comment:

Dianna said...

I am humbled by the breadth and depth of your thinking; I am humbled by your outstanding writing. An example of what you speak can be seen in the movie "Michael Clayton".